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Cops Conducting Fewer Traffic Searches Following Marijuana Legalization

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According to a recently published analysis by researchers at The Marshall Projecta non-partisan news organization focusing on criminal justice issues—and the Center for Investigative Reporting, police are less likely to initiate searches for drugs or weapons during a traffic stop following the enactment of adult-use marijuana laws.

The authors analyzed the frequency of traffic-stop related searches by state police before and after the enactment of cannabis legalization. In Colorado and Washington, fewer drivers were searched after the passage of legalization laws in 2012. However, those searched were disproportionately African American and Hispanic, the report found.

In Colorado, the rate of traffic-stop related searches fell 49% for African Americans, 60% for Hispanics and 62% for whites. Blacks were more than three times as likely as whites to be searched.

In Washington, the rate of traffic-stop related searches fell 34% for African Americans, 25% for Hispanics and 25% for whites. Blacks were twice as likely as whites to be subjected to a searched.

“Removing marijuana possession from the potential list of crimes lowers the chance that a car will be stopped and searched,” the report’s authors concluded.

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